the north face kids ‘Defectors’ a story about the Cold War and a book project
“The Defectors” is a Cold War story, and a pretty good one. Its central characters are brothers Frank and Simon Weeks, who reunite in Moscow on a book project.
Moscow is the site of their reunion because that’s where Frank, a former CIA agent turned Soviet spy, lives. The book is Frank’s memoir; it’s a tell all tale of his service in the CIA, his rationale for betraying his country and the good life in the Soviet Union. The book has the blessing of his adopted country, one he has lived in for the 12 years since he was exposed as a Communist spy in 1949.
Simon is involved because he is a book editor and publisher and because Frank asked him to handle the deal. Simon, the older of the two, also is curious about the brother he hasn’t seen in more than a decade. He wants to know, among myriad other things, why Frank shamed their family.
Simon does his best see things Frank’s way, and he’s initially delighted to see him and recall some better days with him. Before long, however, Simon realizes Frank is little more than an agent of the Soviet Union, though he’s only of modest use to his masters.
In visiting with Frank, Simon also visits Frank’s wife, Joanna, a woman he once was sweet on. She hasn’t fared well as the wife of a traitor. Yes, the couple is treated reasonably well certainly better than rank and file Soviet citizens but she’s turned to alcohol to adjust to the isolation and the dreams she knows will never come true.
While the KGB, the main security agency for the Soviet Union, is pulling many of Frank’s strings, Simon is hardly independent. The CIA wants him to gather information about Frank and the assortment of other Americans and Brits who switched sides and who have formed something of an ex pat community of spies.
The Soviets know this, of course, and he’s under constant watch. His tail is Boris, sometimes keeps his distance but other times joins him, Frank and Joanna and others in their clique. They’re not behind bars, but they know they could be hauled in for questioning if their behavior becomes suspicious.
The Soviets hope Frank’s memoir will be an international hit that will further embarrass the United States. is counting on Simon to use his expertise to limit the damage.
The story takes something of a predictable turn when Frank, who has never lacked either initiative or recklessness, concocts a plan form him to accompany Simon back to the West. The cover for this escapade is a tour the brothers will take, accompanied by a UPI reporter who has been promised the first published interview with Frank, and by Boris.
To have even the remotest chance of success, the scheme would require the involvement of the CIA and a way to fool the Soviets, who don’t fool easily. Simon gets the agency’s involvement and plenty of direction as well. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, Frank doesn’t trust the CIA any more than the agency trusts him, so he ad libs.
The story is set against the backdrop of intense mutual suspicion between the United States and the Soviet Union; events occur in the year after the Soviets shoot down the U 2 spy plane piloted by Gary Powers and the year before the Cuban Missile Crisis.
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